Gizmo Board, a tiny x86 dev board

Gizmo

With the Raspberry Pi and sever other ARM dev boards seeing their time in the lime light, it’s no surprise other chip manufacturers would want to get in on the action. AMD is releasing a very tiny x86 dev board called the Gizmo, a four-inch square board that shrinks a desktop computer down to the palm of your hand.

The Gizmo is powered by a dual-core x86 Brazos CPU running at 1 GHz with an included Radeon HD 6250 graphics engine. Also on the board is 1GB of DDR3 RAM, a SATA, Ethernet, USB, VGA, Audio, PCI and PCIe ports, and a ton of GPIO pins that include ADCs and DACs. All this in a four-inch square package that boasts about twice the performance of a Raspberry Pi.

While the price of the Gizmo – $200 for an explorer kit – will probably preclude it from being as popular as a Raspberry Pi or other ARM board, sometimes you just need an x86 platform to do the job. With the powerful graphics potential of the Gizmo, we could easily see this board being used in a few computer vision or autonomous robot builds.

Comments

  1. jh says:

    if it had an HDMI port instead of VGA, definitely a HTPC option for odd and interesting cases.

  2. Justin says:

    Pro: LVDS, SATA, ADC (1x ?), DAC (1x ?), SPI and apparently some GPIO
    Con: 6.4W, needs a fan if boxed up and yet another new JTAG probe

  3. dattaway says:

    Looks like it requires the power of a small laptop too.

  4. MrX says:

    Gotta love those huge heatsinks there :P

  5. polossatik says:

    and again,”30-day trial license” for the EDK, ” 20 hours of trial time use” for that probe thingy.
    comon will they never learn? If they “cripple” it a bit with limiting the functionallity/optimisor or so for the bundle , ok, but “trial licenses” booooo

    • Drone says:

      Ya, this looks like a scam. To get access to the development tools you’re gonna have pay up big time. Just buy a little fanless Atom or AMD C-series mobo and be done with it. This thing looks like there are a lot of hidden gotchas.

      • A one-year license for the development tools is available for $299. This includes all downloads and updates. Normally such a license costs over a thousand bucks, but GizmoSphere developers get a special deal. This kit may not be right for all developers, but it’s a great system for embedded developers who want performance and I/O accessibility.

  6. lwatcdr says:

    It looks like there is a second SATA port on the highspeed connector so it could make a good two drive NAS.

  7. spike spiegel says:

    The Power of a Netbook, The price of a (NEW) Netbook, yet no LCD, Keyboard, Trackpad, Harddrive, wi-fi by default, Portable Laptop form factor, etc. etc.

    I was excited until I saw the price of $200, They could sell more if it was less than $100. Also I don’t think I would require a Fan, These NetBooks don’t need them. Netbook motherboards go for ~50$ why can’t they just build that in a better form factor and include DAC’s GPIO’s and ADC’s ????

    • jacques says:

      “They” could do it, that’s just marketing. The target is not laptop users or hackers. So the price is not the same. The goal of a manufacturer is not always to make thing as cheap as possible.

    • Dissy says:

      The $200 is for the dev kit, which includes the board itself, another expansion board (with an LCD, more gpio, more ‘standard’ ports like usb, and a prototyping area) plus all that extra beginners type hardware like the keypad and cabling.

      Once they push it through venders and start selling just the CPU board alone without all the “extras” it will be cheaper.

      Not sure if they will hit the below-$100 mark or not though.

      If you want something pre-made and don’t want to touch a wire ever, then of course this is a bad idea. Get a netbook, or a laptop.
      If you only want the CPU board, will have to wait and see what it costs once they sell it alone.
      Only if you want the full beginners dev hardware would buying it now be a good idea.

  8. rasz says:

    $200 = how cute, another board from people that still think they can charge us more for less (size)
    ANY ATX board + cheapest cpu will provide more performance for a lot less money + the only thing this one has going for it (x86 compatibility).

  9. xorpunk says:

    I wonder if this will work out better than the Geode boards?

    Palm size x86 boards are a peripheral developers wet dream, but not sure about $200…

    • xorpunk says:

      As mentioned. ITX are way cheaper, Fusion and Atom boards are at least 50 cheaper, and that’s the most recent ones…

      I posted this after noticing this board has no IO so it’s just going to fail in the target market…

      • Dissy says:

        102 GPIOs, 2 uarts, i2c, spi, adc, stepper motor controller, 2 USBs, and an onboard mini lcd is “no IO”?!?
        I’d love to play with the massive beast you would consider a “small tiny amount of IO” in that case :P

        Still, I’m going to wait until they sell just the CPU card without the expansion board and other dev-kit extras. With all that is in that dev kit, I can easily see that being 2/3rd of the $200 price tag. If so they might just hit that sub $100 mark for the CPU alone.

  10. BobFeg says:

    I will stick with the Pi.
    This is too much $ and has no HDMI.

  11. DanJ says:

    It’s neat but seems a bit pricey. One cool thing that can be done with tiny x86 linux machines is to use Real Studio’s Web Edition to make embedded web 2.0 control applications. They don’t build yet for ARM but can output for win, os x or x86 linux.

  12. Entropia says:

    “Open source” apparently means no schematics, no board design files etc… Nice going. I was pretty excited to read the post but this thing is just too expensive.

    • jc says:

      yeah, that sucks. They posted datasheets of everything though. I’m still interested whether the RTC crystal and battery are actually connected or if the RTC in that companion chip is just useless.

    • jc says:

      what’s huge I think though is the open source bios (reflashable to anyones liking). That alone enables you to do tons more than regular mini-itx mobos in some ways. And that huge input voltage range (and the fact that there’s only a single input voltage AND it can power SATA on its own) is also awesome

      • matt says:

        Yeah, essentially you can get a LOT of the chipset programming from that. It’s not as good as having all the docs that might require an NDA, but should be enough to mess with some other platform firmware depending on the flash part’s size. Hopefully there are guys out there doing an EDK2 port to this and can demystify some of it in something that can be poked at with a debugger.
        That’s one of the sticking points though. It may not be powerful but having an inexpensive x86 platform with an inexpensive hardware debugger could allow for some real software research (both good and bad).
        With the kind of speeds you can get from PCIe and SATA, I’d like to see what people can come up with.

  13. will says:

    Here we go again, just like the Raspi. You can’t buy the damn thing. You can sign up and they’ll send you an email when available. If it’s anything like the pi, I’ll get mine around July.

  14. alxy says:

    If you want the same size, but supported by a large company (which will have a higher chance of being standardized), and comes with a spiffy case, get the Intel NUC. It’s got a lot more power than this.

    If you want cheap, get a $60 atom or E-240 mini-itx board and a $22 4gb dram stick.

    If you need GPIO’s there’s a lot of USBGPIO devices (like cypres ezusb board for $15 on ebay or a $20 atmega32 dev board with USB headers also on ebay).

    And if you must have JTAG, get an FPGA or PPC/ARM SBC or an old Xbox 360, and check out openOCD.

  15. shanon says:

    Did anyone else think bitcoin cluster?!

    • Ravyne says:

      Only the people who don’t understand this’ll have a pretty poor investment/payoff and performance/watt ratio; and those unaware that mining ASICs are on the precipice of making CPU and GPU mining completely obsolete.

      :)

  16. DORID says:

    O-Droid X-2 is better… Hell, O-Droid U-2 is better.

  17. zb3r says:

    boasts about twice the performance of a Raspberry Pi., but no twice price

  18. Hattori Hanzo says:

    So, this is a netbook mainboard with some DACs and ADCs. Nice.

    Oh wait, a Netbook plus some random ATusb based board gives me the same for 20 bucks more and includes a backup battery, a screen, a keyboard, wifi…
    It would basically be this, but entirely self contained!

    If that’s too costly, Biostar sells a board with a soldered on Celeron 847. It has Gbit, VGA, HDMI, 4x SATA, no USB 3.0, and PCIe x8. Add 4GB RAM and some Teensy 3.0 you end with $130 for something way better. The CPU’s TDP is 17W, the entire board is happy with around ~25W, with Gbit, RAM and SATA in use. Hell, add the $50 for an M3 ATX picopsu. Now it still is below the $200 and you have more features and more power in every regard.

    I don’t really see where the market for this is. The JTAG option alone can hardly sell a Netbook I’d guess. What would you use this for, where not either a Raspi or some standard ITX board would be a better and/or cheaper choice?

  19. jc says:

    Twice the performance of a raspberry pi ? This is amd64 we’re talking about. Get real.
    Also, ignoring the incredibly higher computing performance, you get REAL storage (sata), you get real multiple USB hosts and a real separate ethernet port. That’s WAY much more bandwidth from various sources than the pi.
    The pi just has two usb hosts, one of which is basically a usb hub with usb ethernet card and multiple ports and the ton of problems that come from that.

    Oh yeah, this thing also can switch off properly and apparently has an RTC.

    The pi is absolutely great but you can’t possibly compare it with this.

  20. Bojan says:

    Does someone needs something like SLI bridge on Raspberry PI? :)

  21. This looks more like 4×4 = 16 square inches to me (or perhaps 4 inches square, if that’s the better term). Not to be pedantic or anything. :)

  22. SavannahLion says:

    A quick search for an alternate high GPIO count board on a X86 platform just returns the Cubieboard which has nothing to do with x86??

    So going back to the Gizmo board, They’re not exactly boasting about the GPIO other than a simple mention. The best I could figure is that the GPIO is being done through the Southbridge (A55E) which has a maximum of 102 GPIO. Does it even look like there’s 102 GPIO pins on that card along with all the other outputs it offers? According to the site, ALL of the GPIO is on the smaller connector along with:

    One USB interface
    ADC input signal
    DAC output signal
    PWM pins
    SPI port
    Counter
    Reset

    For $200 bucks what market are they really targeting? For a high GPIO count, a Cubieboard ARM board might be more suitable. For a decent x86 small form factor, any number of the small form factor would be cheaper. So we get to pay an extra $150 dollars for a board that’s 4″x4″?

    Nah….

  23. zuul says:

    Get 2x the performance at 4x the cost…. Not exactly the best ad campaign

    • jc says:

      right, neverming the fact that raspi has nowhere near even half the cpu computing power of this thing. nevermind the fast ddr3 memory, normal storage support (sd cards suck as anything but dumb large file storage) and absolutely uncomparable bandwidth. Try doing any real video processing and recording on a raspi, I dare you.
      I think this thing is a great first step.

  24. HC says:

    I’m confused. Exactly what’s the target market for this? You can get a used netbook motherboard with equivalent performance off ebay for a quarter of this price.

    • matt says:

      The ability to have a hardware debugger on anything x86 for this price seems like a pretty big deal to me. Then there is the open source BIOS as well. I’ll read over the data sheets when I get a chance. The price and the openenss of this kit seems like a pretty big deal to me. I’m really, really curious.

  25. TheAtheistLucario says:

    This device will not pass. As an “Professional” tool it seems doable, but most Hobbiests don’t want to switch to another proprietary IDE or just cant afford another $3k+ license and other hidden costs for something they will only ever use once in a great while when they absolutely need processing power and enough IO to drive 30 buttons, LEDs, switches, and knobs all at once.

    In summary, this this device is too expensive for most hobbiests, and as i’d assume thats their target market, they fail it…

  26. markaeric says:

    I’d like to see one of these system-on-boards using the new intel x86 atom lexington. With performance equivalent to a PC from the early 2000s, and dirt cheap price, it would make a compelling little pico-computer that could be a lot more flexible than the various ARM boards.

  27. NewCommentor1283 says:

    1) i like it and now i need 200$ lol

    2) its so awesome! i could run ANY of my fav O.S.’s and ANY of my existing software XD
    the GPIO can double as parallel or software-serial

    3) using something as small of a raspi, so write, compile, and run any interfacing project.
    WITHOUT avr/pic/arm and WITHOUT PC/laptop/netbook/tablet/phone XD

    “all in one robotics platform”

    4) most ppl here dont realise this product is for all us ppl that would say
    “i got an old 1ghz laptop with broken LCD, what can i use it for?”
    EXECPT the laptop motherboard does NOT fit in to my enclosure :(:(((((

    FINALLY we get the equivilent of a laptop motherboard execpt it is much smaller, AND includes all the connectors you _might_ not “get” on a plain laptop motherboard! :)
    (like GPIO, ADC, DAC, PCI and PCI-E)

    PS: i use laptop and netbook interchangeably

    • pcf11 says:

      Yeah but it has AMD graphics which can be a problem with some software.

      • Remy Dyer says:

        Everyone hacking on the open source AMD graphics hardware ought to get one of these, and an oscilloscope. Why?
        Simple: Direct access to processor IO means a very easy way to debug kernel / DRM / driver execution delays – without needing an interrupt. Race conditions and other things eating up time can be caught and studied on an oscilloscope. Things that go away when you stop things by dropping into a debugger.

        People are finally beginning to realise that 200+ fps just isn’t as important as consistency. Peak FPS is nothing more than a bragging figure – minimum FPS (maximum latency) has always been what really matters. This means finding and killing “soft” faults – code errors that don’t stop things, but do absolutely kill performance.

        • pcf11 says:

          It would be nice if the AMD drivers were stable enough I could consider them an option. To me works is far more important than meaningless benchmarks. The last time I tried an ATI product (AMD now) it didn’t work at all! The hardware was older, but the last time I tried it wasn’t that long ago, about a year.

          • competent technician says:

            Sounds like a EBKAC driver problem. I suggest you upgrade to the latest revision.

          • pcf11 says:

            Sounds like you’re experiencing a BIOYA scenario. It happens when you try to reach conclusions with insufficient data. We’re not playing Wheel of Fortune here!

  28. LordNothing says:

    its too bad pico itx really hasn’t caught on yet.

    • Isaac says:

      I doubt it ever will. We’ve only got two big players and they both seem far too pre-occupied with coming up with their own standards. Nevermind x-itx are all VIA licensed.

  29. Galane says:

    Will it run Windows XP?

  30. glawery says:

    Why I just put “x86 smartphone” into google, and it threw up the Xolo X900 – its about 400$, but I’m sure it don’t need heatsink(s). IF it is really x86, just stick a big battery to its bottom, and you have your dev board running whatever software from the past 30 years – and if you have no better to do you can use it as a mobile phone ( why would anybody want to do that? ).

    • markaeric says:

      Check out intel “Lexington” Z2420 which is being used in the Safaricom Yolo. The chip is basically the little brother to the one used in the Xolo, but they Yolo is being priced at $130. I already mentioned this in an earlier comment, but I agree, it would make for an awesome little x86 board.

  31. Chris says:

    No HDMI = HUGE FAIL

  32. binky says:

    ” boasts a 52.8 GFLOP capacity! Custom high speed and low speed edge connectors enable a full range of functions. You’ll have access to the power of a supercomputer ”

    I have an EeePC with a 25 GFLOP GPU. Does this mean I also have a super computer?

  33. SonicBroom says:

    So nearly there!

    When they keep the speed, remove those silly heat sinks and drop the price, then we’re talking.

  34. mrchief_2000 says:

    200$, no HDMI, under powered CPU – I’m sorry but I would rather put an extra 100$ and go a full powered desktop package.

  35. bunedoggle says:

    I bought a Intel Atom board about 2 years ago for $69 from Newegg. I had to add memory ($20).

    Those were (are) x86 based boards for $89 2 years ago. In my mind these would need to be more than 4 times better or half the price (or both).

    To me this is more proof that Arm based systems will be the dominant player in embedded and handheld computing.

  36. signal7 says:

    Frustrated by this announcement. At the very least, tell us if this is x86-32 or x86-64! I read the CPU specs and there was no mention of its capabilities. In this day and age, it’s insufficient to just say x86 – to know the real capabilities of the system, you have to know if it can run 64bit based OS’s.

    There’s a lot of experimentation that would be interesting if it were x86-64, but the documentation on this point is so awful, I won’t be buying one anytime soon.

    • mrchief2000 says:

      x86 = 32 bit. 64 bit is known as ia64 or x64(less common).

      • Rick says:

        You failed pretty hard.
        ia64 = Itanium. Not even close to the same thing.
        It is actually 64 bit.

        64 bit x86 is known variously as x64, amd64, em64t, and x86-64.

        • mrchief2000 says:

          I’m sry, yes ia62 is itanium. I meant amd64 (I knew I was missing something). I’ve never heard of em64t and x86-64 in hardware circles. All x86 boards are 32 bit. x86-64 is like saying 32-64 bit which doesn’t make any sense, but then the world is full of eccentric folks.

    • RAQ says:

      @signal7: If you would bother to check AMD’s web site, you would find out that the Brazos (fka “Fusion”) CPU has two “Bobcat” cores, which are 64bit…

      • signal7 says:

        I “bothered” to read a hefty amount of documentation trying to figure this out yesterday afternoon and, no, it was not apparent in any of the documents I took the time to read. The link on this post goes to a dedicated website for this particular product and all of the necessary documentation should be there. x64 is a feature and it should be highlighted as such. Having to go to AMD.com to figure that out is not intuitive, if you ask me.

        Thanks for the answer though.

        • pcf11 says:

          “Having to go to AMD.com to figure that out is not intuitive, if you ask me.”

          You obviously don’t search for too many electronics component data sheets. Manufacturers are the first places to look! In the end a CPU is still just an IC.

          • signal7 says:

            I made my point – it should not take an entire day of reading to figure out what is essentially a basic specification. In the end, the community was more helpful than the product literature. Lets try and keep the discussion positive.

          • pcf11 says:

            Yes, let’s. I’m positive if you’ve been involved in searching for electronics data for longer it wouldn’t have taken you so long. It is a developed skill. I’ve been at it since the mid 70s myself. You’ve no idea what it was like before the advent of the Internet! I still have shelves of my grimoires that I’m not about to give up. Some of that data isn’t even on the Internet now. I never know when I might be called upon to cast a spell in RTL. I even got an AMD data book from 1982. Probably one of the few in existence today. I’m talking paper and ink!

          • RAQ says:

            An entire day? What are you using for your online searches? Bing?

            Sorry, but it takes 60secs (or less) to do a Google search for “Brazos x86″ to find all the necessary info on both Wikipedia and AMD’s website.

            If you seriously expect to get everything spoon fed, maybe embedded development isn’t quite up your alley…

          • signal7 says:

            There is no call for insults. I made a point, if you feel the need to put me down and you can’t participate like a community member, you can take your ball and go home. ’nuff said.

          • pcf11 says:

            Don’t play the game if you can’t take some roughness now and again. Especially a well deserved drubbing.

          • signal7 says:

            I never said I couldn’t take it. Just that it wasn’t called for. If I wanted a flame war, I’d be on usenet – especially one as useless as this.

            Seriously, I made a valid complaint and you’re all now being elitist datasheet snobs. This is supposed to be a place for the exchange of ideas and information for the purpose of promoting innovation (aka hacking). Insulting someone for making a valid point about the uselessness of AMD’s site is not productive.

            I asked the question, the community responded and I thanked them. I find it ironic that it would seem the same helpful guy that answered my question wants to insult me. Fine then. I concede that RAQ is a bigger cpu nerd than I am.

            Happy?

          • pcf11 says:

            I’m always happy. But that has more to do with being me than anything else.

  37. To let everyone know, the Gizmo Explorer Kit User Guide is now up at the GizmoSphere website. GizmoSphere is an independent initiative designed to build a community of embedded developers, many of whom are hobbyists, tinkerers and students. We’re growing every day and the community helps drive future designs. Four partners — AMD, Sage, Viosoft, and TMT — help support the community. One decision that’s been made based on feedback is to add HDMI in the next design. The Gizmo development board (pictured in the article) comes with the Explorer board (an I/O breakout card for prototyping) and limited-time use of sophisticated development tools. If a developer wants to continue using these tools (SmartProbe and Sage EDK) beyond the trial time, a one-year license is available for $299 (a deep discount from the one-year license available to commercial entities). Join the GizmoSphere and take part in the discussion through the forums and channels you’ll find there. Thanks, and happy developing!

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